2 mins: Jon Hughes

Just a few weeks into the job and Red Bull’s new Off Premise director Jon Hughes caught up with SLR to chat energy drinks, travelling the country and finding the time to go mountain biking.

Hi Jon, how’s the new job going?
Great. Really great. This is my fourth week in the job and I’ve been really impressed with the way Red Bull operates. It’s a great positive attitude – it’s ferocious and fun.

And you’re covering the whole of the UK in your job?
That’s right. I’m based in London but live in Yorkshire so I’m spending three days a week in the office and the rest of the time on the road.

So in a working week, 40% of your time is spent out meeting retailers?
Yes. That’s one of the great things about the job, I get out there and get to meet lots of retailers and wholesalers, and the Red Bull team that’s out on the road. So much of our business is done through this sector that it’s important to know it well.

Have you worked in this sector before?
I’ve worked in FMCG before including time at Heineken, and at Scottish & Newcastle before it changed hands. Before taking up the job with Red Bull I was working freelance, consulting for the on-trade.

The energy market must be an easy sell these days?
Everyone I’ve spoken to has reported good growth in the energy sector, and that fits with nationwide data. It is hard work to maintain those levels though, for both category and retailers. Red Bull created the category too, it was the pioneer so there has always been lots of category support available.

And now, the company is branching out into flavours?
Editions arrived in February and there has been great support for them. That’s our big focus at the moment. It’s about getting distribution and then building on that. The above the line campaign has started and with this being Red Bull’s first move into flavours it will bring new drinkers to the category.

What’s your pick of the three Editions flavours?
The Lime variant is my favourite – it’s a got a really refreshing taste.

What are your plans for the summer and beyond then?
There’s going to be plenty more to come from Red Bull this year. As well as our continuing sponsorship of things like Formula 1, there is going to be more PMP activity and we’ll be doing more on World of Red Bull, which involves music and a host of different sports.

Seeing as you mentioned sports, have you been drawn into some of the more extreme sports on the red bull calander?
Ha! Well, I’ve not been cliff diving. I do enjoy mountain biking though. I live near the Yorkshire Dales so it’s handy for getting out on a ride. And I enjoy winter sports to.

Red Bull is famed for much of its marketing – how much do you think it drives success?
In terms of marketing it’s all about driving awareness. We do conventional advertising but we also try to do our own thing too, and that allows us to better engage with consumers, and that drives sales.

How much of your focus will be on the impulse market.
Impulse is our heartland; 52% of our sales are consumed on-the-go. That’s down to the drink’s functional benefits. Impulse exists for people on the go and so we work with retailers to help them capitalise on that opportunity.

And have you made it up to Scotland yet?
Not yet. I’ve got many happy memories of Scotland from my time at S&N so I’ll hopefully be up there later in the year.

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